E3 2012: Sony takes care of the hardcore gamers with exclusives ‘Beyond: Two Souls’ & ‘The Last of Us’
Sony was all about the games at this year’s E3. The company’s press event started off with a PS3 exclusive title from Quantic Dream, the development team behind the visually impressive Heavy Rain and the even better looking, emotional Kara tech demo that came out recently. Lead developer David Cage revealed his new project Beyond: Two Souls with an extended trailer that introduces the game’s main character Jodie Holmes. Cage hand-picked actress Ellen Page (Juno) to star as Holmes in a game that begs the questions what happens when you die? Cage describes the game as “emotional, mature, and unique, but also epic, breath-taking, and spectacular” and he teases that “if you make the right decisions, maybe you will discover what lies beyond.” Cage ranks up there with Avatar inventor James Cameron as a master of the performance capture technology. Visually mind-blowing with an intriguing storyline, Beyond: Two Souls is a strong exclusive for PS3.
Next, the PlayStation maker brought out developer Super Bot Entertainment to play a round of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. It’s Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros., a game that pits classic PlayStation characters against each other in a battle to a button-mashing death. The game stars Kratos (God of War), Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal), Sly Cooper, Mael Radec (Killzone 2), Fat Princess, and PaRappa the Rapper; at the presser Nathan Drake (Uncharted) and Big Daddy (Bioshock) were added to the mix. More significant than the on-screen battle was that the demonstration consisted of some players using DualShock controllers on the PS3 and others participating with PS Vitas. The game will be released on both the PS3 and PS Vita and will come packed with Cross-Play and Cross-Save functionalities. The former meaning that you can fight players on your PS3 and wirelessly with PS Vita owners; the latter meaning you can start a battle on your PS Vita, save it, and resume it on your PS3 (and vice-versa).
Following the innovations of Nintendo’s Wii U and Microsoft’s SmartGlass, Sony is looking to expand its services to a second screen, in this case the in-house PS Vita. In addition to Cross-Play and Cross-Save with Battle Royale, Sony also teased “cross-controller” downloadable content with LittleBigPlanet 2. Later this year the new DLC will allow gamers to “play, create and share using the PS3 and Vita” together. Sony’s Jack Tretton described the experience like this. “Utilizing dual-screen gaming in single player, Vita becomes an enhanced controller for the PS3. It’ll give each player their own controls and perspectives but working towards the same objective.” He summed up, “Cross-platform features will enhance gameplay and create completely new experiences.” They didn’t focus on cross-platform functionality as nearly as much as Microsoft did, but here’s to hoping that Sony is working closely with developers and content providers to enable this exciting technology more broadly across games and other forms of entertainment.
The PlayStation Move card was played this year by way of a new augmented reality experience called Wonderbook. Sony has invented a physical book filled with pages with AR markers on them that when laid out in front of a PS Eye camera will bring to life stories much like a pop-up book would, only on a much more grander scale. PS owners need only purchase one Wonderbook and it has the potential to tell theoretically an unlimited number of stories. Sony says they’re working closely with developers and authors to come up with various interactive tales. The first one comes from Harry Potter scribe J.K. Rowling and it’s called “Book of Spells.” It features “exclusive, new and original writing from Rowling herself.” The PS Move controller becomes a wand and the gamer-reader embarks on an journey that will reveal the origins of the spells introduced in the Potter books, like the levitation spell “levioso.” The book releases this fall. Sony makes a point that Wonderbook “isn’t limited to just stories.” It can also serve educational purposes: “imagine sailing the seven seas to explore an atlas, walking with dinosaurs, traveling beyond the stars to discover astronomy.” Though demos of this type of usage weren’t shown, Sony said that Moonbot Studios is developing “Diggs Nightcrawler,” a story inspired by film noir, so at least a couple of books will be ready when the physical Wonderbook hits shelves later this year.
Back to the games for the hardcore gamers… Assassin’s Creed III is coming to PS3 and its pirate-themed demo excited the crowd as did the announcement for Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for the PS Vita. Link the two games together and another form of cross-functionality takes place. “Cross-goods” include bonus content like new personas for your assassin. Far Cry 3 enables four-player co-op; the prequel God of War: Ascension looks to be a bloody good time; and the next title from Naughty Dog The Last of Us faded out the press event with a bang. The visuals and mechanics of that game look stunning. With Beyond, God of War, and The Last of Us, Sony proved this year that they are fully committed to securing innovative and genre-defining games to the PS3. There’s a reason why PlayStation fans are so loyal; even though the PS3 is transforming into an entertainment hub akin to the Xbox, Sony never loses focus on what matters most: the games.
Other announcements made at Sony’s press conference include: (Click here for more…)
On the 28th of February Sony announced sales figures for their latest console release the PS Vita. Following the powerful handheld’s December 17th launch in Japan and February 22 drop in North and Latin America, Europe, Singapore, and PAL territories, the house that built PlayStation “exceeded expectations surpassing over 1.2 million units worldwide,” according to a press release pasted in full after the break. The company also notes that software sales have surpassed 2 million units at both retail and on PlayStation Network.
Says Andrew House, President and Group CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.: “PS Vita was designed to deliver the ultimate portable entertainment experience, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the reaction we’re seeing from consumers and the pace at which PS Vita is selling. The market has responded and there is clear demand for a mobile device capable of providing a revolutionary combination of rich gaming and social connectivity within a real world context. To sustain momentum, we’re working closely with 3rd party developers and publishers to ensure the best games and franchises possible will be available on PS Vita, and our software line up for the remainder of 2012 will have something for everyone across the globe.”
Currently there are 25 titles available today for the PS Vita, and Sony says that 70 additional games are in development. Are you an early adopter? How do you rate the PS Vita so far? Sound off in the comments below.
PS Vita, the most powerful handheld video game console ever, is out now. Have launch day nerves? Here’s what you need to know. Sony is selling two different SKUs: the $249 PS Vita with WiFi and the $299 model that also packs in 3G from AT&T. (Also available are the $299 Launch Bundle and the $349 First Edition Bundle, but these are being sold in limited quantities.) If you opt for the 3G model, AT&T is offering up tiered data plans that go like this: 250MB ($14.99), 3GB ($30), and 5GB ($50). There are 25 PS Vita-specific titles from first and third party developers, and the standout must-buy game is Naughty Dog’s Uncharted: Golden Abyss. In addition to fantastic graphics, Uncharted takes advantage of many of the Vita’s innovative input functions including the dual analog sticks, the six-axis motion sensor, and the touch-sensitive back; and so the game will help acclimate you to the new handheld. What else? The PlayStation Store has been updated with Vita-specific apps including Facebook, Netflix, LiveTweet, and Flickr; these freebies are necessities for early adopters, no doubt.
Gamers, it’s time to getcha game on and discover what the new PlayStation Portable is all about. Links to snag one for yourself rest in the paragraph above.
As we get closer and closer to the launch of the PS Vita, Sony is making it harder to resist the temptation to purchase the powerful mobile gaming platform. On Friday the company added a new bundle to the mix. At $299 the “special launch day” bundle will get you the PS Vita (3G + WiFi) hardware, an 8GB memory card, an AT&T DataConnect Session Pass that’s good for 250MB of data, and a free PlayStation Network game. Sony is also adding to the previously announced “first edition bundle.” In addition to the the PS Vita (3G + WiFi) hardware, a 4GB memory card, a copy of the Little Deviants game, and a limited edition case, early adopters will also receive an AT&T DataConnect Session Pass (250MB) and a free PSN game upon activating 3G on the device. This bundle will run you $349 and is now available for preorder. Order it today and receive the Vita a week before its official US release that is February 22. As for the newly announced “special launch day” bundle? That’ll release on the 22nd and will remain on shelves for a limited time “in the few days that follow.”
In a blog post this month Sony announced that 25 games will be launching alongside the PlayStation Vita on February 22 in North America. John Koller, Director of Hardware Marketing, says that the PS Vita “will have the biggest and best lineup we’ve ever launched across the history of PlayStation platforms.” Specifically, 8 titles from SCEA will release on the 22nd along with 17 third party publisher titles. Lingering in the “launch window” are 4 games from SCEA and 6 games from third parties. Games will range from $9.99 to $49.99 in price, and all of them will be available over the counter at retail shops and downloadable over the PlayStation Network. A handful of titles are labeled PSN-exclusives. Sony also says that the Vita will come bundled with six AR Play Cards and one voucher to download a selection of augmented reality mini games called AR Play over PSN. Looks like somebody is stealing a page out of Nintendo’s playbook. A myriad of Vita accessories such as memory cards, cases, and charges will release slightly ahead of the Vita’s launch date on February 15. Hop after the break to view the full list of games and accessories coming down the pipeline.
Sony is giving its most loyal customers an opportunity to snag a PS Vita one week before the powerful handheld officially launches in North America on February 22. To get your sweaty palms and greasy fingertips on a PS Vita February 15, all you have to do is preorder the “First Edition Bundle” which comes with the Vita (3G + Wi-Fi model), a limited edition case, a 4GB memory card, and the Little Deviants game. The bundle costs $349.99 (that’s a hundred dollars more than the standalone 3G + Wi-Fi model) and it’s up for preorder now at select retailers including Best Buy and Amazon. Want a chance to play with the next generation portable before everyone else? This is it.
President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America Jack Tretton announced that the PSP successor, the PlayStation Vita, will launch in the United States on February 22, 2012. This will follow the initial release in Japan on December 17. The PS Vita, with its 5-inch OLED screen, dual analog sticks, dual cameras, and front and rear touch panel and social networking applications like Facebook, foursquare, Skype, and Twitter, will sell in two SKUs: the 3G model (with AT&T support) will cost $299, while the WiFi-only version will go for $249. Now peep the packaging above and start saving!
The second big E3 press conference was hosted by the PlayStation makers. Again, here’s all the info in easy to digest bullet-point form.
- President of Sony Computer Entertainment of America Jack Tretton started by addressing the elephant in the room. He apologized to everyone for the recent PlayStation Network outage.
- Sony announced that the PS3 is the leading Netflix streamer amongst consumers, account for almost 30 percent of Netflix’s streams. Coming this fall to PS3 owners is Best Buy’s CinemaNow video service, providing consumers with access to more than 12,000 TV episodes and movies for rental or purchase.
- Upcoming PS3 exclusives include: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (a demo was played and a 3D trailer was shown, due out November 1, 2011); Resistance 3 (Sony will ship a Resistance 3 Sharpshooter bundle dubbed the “Doomsday Edition” and it’ll come with the game, the gun accessory, the PlayStation Eye, and Move controllers, $150, due out September 6); the God of War Origins Collection will bring the PSP games Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta to the PS3 remastered in HD and 3D; the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus collection is also coming to the PS3 with support for 3D gaming.
- Speaking of 3D gaming, Sony plans to drive adoption for the new in-home format by selling a PlayStation-branded 3DTV. The 24-inch set features a mode where players can view individual, unique, full-screen images of gameplay when playing two-player games; the bundled set of 3D glasses do the trick. Other specs: LCD display, 1080p, 2D/3D support, high contrast (5000:1), wide viewing angle (176 degree) high response time (4ms GTG average), slim design, high quality sound, 2 HDMI ports. For $499.99 you get the 3DTV, Resistance 3, one pair of 3D glasses (PS-branded 3D glasses will sell separately for $69.99), and an HDMI cable. It’s a good idea, but question remains: is the lower barrier of entry low enough to get you to buy into 3D today?
- Upcoming games to utilize Move include: NBA 2K12 (Kobe Bryant popped by for the demo); Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest (made by the devs who brought us the Move launch title Sports Champions); inFamous 2 (out now); deeper Move functionality is coming to LittleBigPlanet 2 this September; Starhawk; Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (he’s back in 2012); Dust 514 (this PS3 exclusive releases spring 2012 and will extend to the NGP); BioShock Infinite (Irrational Games’ Ken Levine had to be convinced by Sony to incorporate Move support in this new title; though skeptical at first, Levine has found potential in it…he also announced that a new game set in the BioShock universe will release for the NGP some time in the future…and Infinite will come packed with the original BioShock); and Star Trek (will release next year alongside the J.J. Abrams sequel and will ship with a phaser-like accessory).
- New games from EA will provide PS3 exclusive content: SSX (Mt. Fuji map), Need for Speed: The Run (exclusive cars), and Battlefield 3 (Battlefield 1943 comes on the disc).
- Sony honcho Kaz Hirai also addressed the PSN outage and said, “We learned a lot during the recent outage of the PlayStation Network and one of the most important things we learned was the trust and loyalty of our customers.” On that higher note, he talked up the PlayStation Suite and PlayStation-certified Android devices.
- And then the announcement we’ve all been waiting for…the NGP is officially called PlayStation Vita. Where does the name come from? Sony explains: “Derived from the Latin word “Vita,” which means “Life,” this next generation portable entertainment system enables a revolutionary combination of rich gaming and social connectivity within a real world context.” It ships this holiday season and two models will be offered: WiFi only for $249.99 and WiFi+3G for $299.99. Sony has partnered with AT&T for the 3G data (the crowd moaned in laughter when this news was announced). The following games will be coming to PS Vita likely as launch titles: Uncharted: Golden Abyss, LittleBigPlanet, Ruin, Wipeout, and ModNation Racers. Capcom previewed Street Fight X Tekken; the game will feature InFamous‘ Cole MacGrath as a playable character. For a more in-depth look at the PS Vita, click here!
- Some DJ concluded the event with thumping beats.
Like Microsoft’s presser, I was left somewhat unsatisfied after watching Sony’s outing. They failed to excite me with a new franchise or by reinvigorating an old classic (though the return of Sly looks promising). PS Vita is an odd name for the PSP successor, but that won’t matter in the end if the content developed for it is good. And by the looks of it many developers are jumping on board to produce all kinds of fun, interactive experiences with the handheld’s OLED touch display, tilt functions, camera, and back touch pad. Here’s to hoping that Nintendo brings the goods tomorrow when they announce their new home console and new 3DS titles.